Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized expert in the field of "Lean Healthcare" as a consultant, author, keynote speaker, and blogger. We had a chance to speak with Mark about how he markets himself, his books, and his personal appearances.
Even though you've built a successful career in the corporate world, why did you decide to write your first book?
I have always enjoyed writing, and I started blogging in 2005. Having demonstrated an ability to write consistently and to build an audience, I was referred to my publisher, Productivity Press. They were looking for an author to write an introductory book on the "Lean Healthcare" methodology, and I had always wanted to write a book, so I jumped at the opportunity.
What social media channel has been the most successful in helping to promote your books?
I think Twitter and LinkedIn have been the most helpful. Facebook doesn't drive much engagement, but I can understand why people use Facebook for personal life and fun while using Twitter (and especially LinkedIn) for professional engagement. LinkedIn was very helpful to me when they asked me a few years ago to be a part of their "Influencers" program. That gave me a huge boost in building my audience there. LinkedIn has actively promoted me and my work, including articles I've written for them and various status updates and news articles I share.
Give us an insight into your website's conversion success. Do most people who visit your site buy your book immediately? Or do they tend to wait until after they download a chapter or receive notifications from you?
I made the decision to make the first chapters of my books available as a free PDF file. This is something the publisher wouldn't have done without me pushing for it. Over time, though, Amazon and Google Books make it easier for people to browse and sample parts of the books, not just the first chapters. To get the chapter, people have to submit an email address, which signs them up for my monthly email newsletter. I honestly don't know how many people buy the book immediately through Amazon or my publisher, or how many buy the book later.
How do you go about informing purchasers of your book when an updated edition becomes available?
I've used that email newsletter list that I've accumulated, as well as using blog posts and social media to notify people.
What aspect of your website or marketing plan has been the most successful method of obtaining email addresses or other contact information from people?
I think the free book PDF chapters have helped greatly, as well as the ability for people to receive blog posts via email. I don't necessarily care about page view counts on my blog. I want readers to stay engaged; and if getting blog posts via email keeps them engaged with me, then that's the most important thing. Time and attention are scarce currencies, so I appreciate any moment that people spend with my work.
How much of a role does your website play in securing new speaking engagements?
I think it plays a big role. People often learn about me through a blog post or one of my books. The website helps people find me, for one, and hopefully the list of topics and speaking clips gives them some confidence that I would do a good job for them. After an initial contact and discussion with someone who contacts me, I have a speaker's bureau that helps sign and manage the speaking engagements.
Since you also host a weekly podcast, could you tell us why you decided to do this? How does it fit into your overall marketing plan?
I started the podcast at the suggestion of my first-ever guest, Norm Bodek. He suggested we should "do a radio show," which I translated into a podcast in 2005. The podcasts have always been a great opportunity for me to reach out and meet thought leaders that I've wanted to connect with. And it's a chance to pick people's brains and ask the questions I am curious about. The fact that I get to record it and share it with an audience is icing on the cake.
The focus of the podcast is the guests. I don't think of it as advertising or direct promotion of myself, but it's another way to be known and to engage with people. Blogging and podcasting are examples of what I've come to know as "inbound marketing," an approach that I was doing somewhat intuitively. I don't advertise my services per se; I get work through word of mouth and by making it easier for people to find me and learn about my work and my passion.
Do you plan on writing any more books in the future? If so, what will you do differently regarding your digital marketing from what you did for your first book?
Yes, I'd love to write more. I continue blogging, but I need to get back into a book mode in 2017. I'd like to write something that's more of a general business book based on lessons from the "Lean" methodology and other quality improvement and management lessons that I've learned.
I'd consider self-publishing through Amazon, and I've done some experiments with the LeanPub.com platform. I'd work with a publisher if I thought I had an idea that could be a "mass market" book; but otherwise, self-publishing and digital marketing create many opportunities that didn't exist when I did the first edition of my first book in 2008.
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